Thursday, June 27th, 2013
New federal school nutrition standards were released today, requiring that schools offer healthy snack choices to students and avoid unhealthy options like candy and chips. Healthy choices include items such as granola bars, trail mix, and baked chips according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new “Smart Snacks in School” nutrition standards. CNN has more on the standards, which are the first such measure to be passed in three decades:
The regulations set limits for fat, salt and sugar sold in places such as vending machines and snack bars. School foods must contain at least 50% whole grains or have a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein as the first ingredient. Foods that contain at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetables will also be allowed.
Beverages will be under the microscope as well. Sports drinks, which contain relatively high amounts of sugar, are prohibited. Low-fat and fat-free milk, 100% fruit and vegetable juice, and no-calorie flavored waters are permitted. Potable water must be made available to kids for free where meals are served.
Schools and food and beverage companies must meet these standards by July 1, 2014, according to the USDA. That means the rules would be in effect for the 2014-2015 school year….
…”Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines, and snack bars will support their great efforts.”
Children will still be allowed to bring in any snacks from home that they choose, and parents can continue to deliver treats for birthday celebrations or holidays to the classroom. Special fund-raising events such as bake sales are also allowed.
Image: School vending machine, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Telling children to “clean their plates” or finish all of their food at any given meal is associated with a higher risk of obesity later in life by a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics. More from CNN.com:
Denying certain foods to children or pressuring them to eat every bit of a meal are common practices among many parents. But researchers at the University of Minnesota found parents who restricted foods were more likely to have overweight or obese children. And while those who pressured children to eat all of their meals mostly had children of normal weight, it adversely affected the way those children ate as they grew older, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Investigators combined data from two separate research studies. The first, EAT 2010 (Eating and Activity in Teens), studied around 2,800 middle and high school students from public schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Participants in the project responded to survey questionnaires designed to examine dietary intake and weight status.
Researchers combined that data with information from the Project F-EAT (Families and Eating and Activity Among Teens), a study designed to examine factors within the family environment on weight in adolescents.
From the combined information, researchers were able to gain a better understanding of how parents’ approach to food and feeding is related to adolescents’ weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States – triple the rate from just a generation ago.
“We found that between 50 and 60% of parents from our sample reported requiring that their child eat all of the food on their plate at a meal,” said researcher Katie Loth, the study’s lead author. “Further, we found that between 30-40% of parents from within our sample reported encouraging their child to continue eating even after their child stated that they were full.
“While these pressure-to-eat behaviors were more frequent among parents of non-overweight adolescents, they were still endorsed quite frequently by parents of overweight and obese adolescents, indicating that many parents endorse these behaviors regardless of their child’s current weight status,” she said.
Image: Child eating, via Shutterstock
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Monday, May 21st, 2012
A new study of 5th-10th grade students has found that watching television is a predictor not only of poor eating habits while the TV is on, but also in general. The New York Times reports:
Researchers asked the children how much TV they watched; how often they snacked while watching; how often they ate fruits, vegetables and candy and drank soda; and how often they skipped breakfast.
The survey uncovered a variety of differences by sex, age and race — for example, girls watched slightly less than boys, older children ate fast food more often, and white children were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables daily.
But over all, after controlling for other factors, viewing time among the children was associated with lower odds of eating fruits and vegetables daily and higher odds of skipping breakfast, consuming candy and sugar-sweetened soda, and eating in fast-food restaurants.
Adjusting for snacking while watching TV did not change the associations, leading the researchers to suggest that broadcast advertising influences eating choices even when children are away from the television.
“There is something parents can do,” said Dr. Ronald J. Iannotti, an author of the study. “Limit TV time, and make sure healthy snacks, particularly fruits, are available.” The study appeared in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Image: Girl snacking and watching TV, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
How foods are marketed to children is among the top 5 areas of concern among 800 recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on how to fight the growing American obesity epidemic.
The IOM is using the term “leanwashing” to describe ways in which food companies market foods in ways that are misleading about their nutritional content. Labeling cookies, breakfast cereals, or drinks as “nutrient-rich,” for example, is frowned upon by the recommendations because it suggests that a nutrient-fortified cookie is a “healthy” snack.
Bruce Bradley, a former food marketing insider, teamed up with the IOM and a number of medical professionals to create the “Leanwashing Index” to help parents make smart food choices for their families. From an IOM statement:
Says Bradley, who has worked for Nabisco, Pillsbury and General Mills, “It’s no secret advertisers are not going to look out for consumer’s health. It’s time for consumers to take control and go beyond what they see on TV or on the front of the package.”
“With pizza considered a vegetable for school lunches, and the voluntary guidelines for food marketing to children stalled out in Washington, we know consumers need something now to help them scrutinize some of the bogus ‘health’ claims that abound in food and product advertising.” said EnviroMedia co-founder and CEO Davis.
Image: Package of cookies, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
College students do gain weight during their years on campus, new research from Ohio State University has found, but at nowhere near the levels that are notoriously associated with those first years away from home. The average student gained between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds during their freshman year, the study reports, but college-aged teens who are not attending school gained only a half pound less, leading researchers to associate weight gain with young adulthood, not the college experience.
The study — which used data from 7,418 young Americans who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 — also found that women gained an average of 2.4 pounds (about one kilo) during their freshman year, while men gained an average of 3.4 pounds (about 1.5 kilos). No more than 10 percent of college freshman gained 15 pounds (6.8 kilos) or more — and a quarter of freshman reported actually losing weight during their first year.
Yet, college students did continue to gain weight steadily while in school, with women gaining between seven and nine pounds (3.17-4 kilos), and men gaining between 12 and 13 pounds (5.4-5.9 kilos). But the researchers noted that dorm living was not in fact to blame, debunking the myth that unlimited buffets and lack of parental supervision resulted in weight gain.
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“The ‘freshman 15′ is a media myth,” said Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study, of a common catchphrase in the US regarding weight gain in your first year of college. “Most students don’t gain large amounts of weight. And it is not college that leads to weight gain — it is becoming a young adult.”
(image via: http://www.mynewplace.com/)